Savor Life to Improve Your Health

29 July, 2020
If you spend quality time on the things that matter, your health will improve. Practice the art of savoring life and appreciating every little detail. Try to find the magic and happiness in the little things.

You should savor life, take things slow, and fully embrace the present moment. Keep your eyes and your heart open to what’s around you. When you live in the present moment, your experiences help you stay positive when things get hard. Don’t forget that spending quality time on the things that matter the most positively affects your physical and mental health.

On the surface, this seems obvious. You probably already know that you’d probably feel better if you were able to slow down and appreciate the simple, everyday things. However, as writer and researcher Nassim Taleb reminds us, people’s common sense seems to be failing them.

We’ve forgotten how to savor life. Many of us are trapped in these strange labyrinths of pressures, fears, and anxieties. There are so many things to achieve and so much instability that fixing our gaze on the present is very difficult.

Also, there’s the fact that your brain is wired to always be aware of potential threats and risks. Your brain doesn’t care whether you’re happy or not. Its main goal is keeping you alive. That means that focusing on the here and now depends on you. Thus, you have to make a conscious effort to learn how to appreciate life.

Conscious attention control also gives rise to a cognitive and emotional reserve that directly impacts your health. This is an important thing to keep in mind.

A woman with a constellation in her brain.

The art of savoring life and autobiographical memory

We’ve all done this at some point in our lives. When you feel good, happy, and fulfilled, you try to take a “mental snapshot” of that moment. You probably even said to yourself “I’m going to remember this moment forever“. The memory doesn’t just include the things that were happening at that moment, but also the things you were feeling and thinking.

Something as simple (and wonderful) as saving those memories is more than just assuring yourself that you’ll be able to remember the wonderful experience. This process is also a voluntary cognitive and emotional act that makes the present moment useful in the future. You hope, in a way, that today’s happiness will seep into the future.

It’s an exercise based on mindfulness. It occurs in a conscious mind full of positive emotions. The art of savoring life is just that: being able to foster moments of well-being and integrating them into your memory. As a result, they become “happiness pills” for the future.

The psychological exercise of savoring life and positive nostalgia

In 2018, Marios Biskas of the University of Southampton conducted a study on nostalgia. He discovered some interesting things about memory:

  • “Savoring life” is more than just a catchphrase and a positive message for personal growth. It’s actually a very healthy psychological exercise for your brain.
  • According to the study, the art of “savoring life” is an exercise in paying close attention to what’s happening around you. It’s a deliberate mental activity that allows you to capture the present experience and retain it. This activity, in turn, creates what scientists call “nostalgic memories”.
Two hands framing the sunset trying to savor life.

Dr. Biskas and his team showed that creating these kinds of memories makes it possible to recover said fragments in the future and feel those positive emotions again. It’s an enriching kind of nostalgia. Thus, it consists of creating an open window that you can look out of every once in a while to breathe and wrap yourself in comforting sensations.

Building this autobiographical memory based on moments of balance, inner peace, and well-being positively impacts your psychological balance.

Having conscious control over your memory

To savor life, you first have to create the moment. Many people think that happiness comes and goes and that those moments have nothing to do with them. That’s a mistake.

You play a role in your own happiness. All of us have to foster and encourage those good moments in our lives. That means slowing down, taking time to rest, and spending quality time with the people you love, as well as quality time alone to connect with yourself.

You don’t need big events or expensive trips to make this happen. The best way to savor life is through simplicity. Look at life with an open and humble gaze that allows you to appreciate the most basic things. When you feel those moments of fulfillment and well-being, try to activate a conscious control of your memory and store that moment in your mind.

The more willing you are and the more control you have to gather these moments of equilibrium and happiness, the more your brain will cooperate. Thus, it’ll be easier to save these mental snapshots of well-being. It’s a task that deserves your time and energy and will help you create a cognitive and emotional reserve.

  • Biskas, Marios (2018) A prologue to nostalgia: Savoring creates nostalgic memories that foster optimism. Cognition and Emotion 47 (12), 1564- doi.10.1080/02699931.2018.1458705
  • Cheung, WY, Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Hepper, EG, Arndt, J. y Vingerhoets, AJJM (2013). Regreso al futuro: la nostalgia aumenta el optimismo. Boletín de Personalidad y Psicología Social , 39 (11), 1484-1496. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213499187